22 February 2015
Joanna Dunn Samson, FOTAS Vice President
Velma is a 5 year-old, silken brown pit bull cross with white feet and sweet eyes who spent most of her life cooped-up and alone. Lonely and miserable, her back teeth are deeply grooved from gnawing constantly on her wire cage.
David Stinson is a man with a deep, resonant voice, a kind face and a very big heart who rescues dogs in desperate or hopeless circumstances and integrates them with love and patience into his busy life as a successful realtor.
This is their story.
Last year I lost two of my beloved canine companions: one to old age and one to a devastating heat stroke. I was heartbroken.
After muddling miserably through the grief, I set out to rescue a small companion dog for me and my two remaining canine buddies. It never occurred to me I would fall suddenly and inexplicably for a pit bull cross, but I did.
Her name was Velma. At first, I walked past her on the adoption floor. I prefer hounds and labs for their gentle and cooperative nature, and Velma was a pit cross. I was not inclined to take on a dog with the kind of reputation and energetic drive associated with a “bully” breed.
Yet, there was something about Velma that made me pause. I took a step back to look again. She was quiet and a little sad – almost like she had given up, like she figured I was yet one more person to walk on by without a glance. She looked up at me with soft brown eyes and wagged her tail slowly, a little glimmer of hope. It was that small endearing gesture that pulled my heartstrings.
I always thought home was a cage. I wanted desperately to play; after all, I am a terrier and “play” is hardwired into my DNA, but I was always caged.
Eventually I was “rescued,” whatever that means, but it was still cages and boxes and lots of other dogs. Don’t get me wrong, I liked the dogs, but I wanted a person to love and look after. But no one looked at me, and I kept gnawing on the cage.
One day a man walked by my kennel at the shelter – a man with a kind voice and a great smell. He didn’t even notice me. Disappointed, I laid my head back on my paws. Then, he turned and came back, and as he knelt in front of my cage and reached out his hand, something just sparked between us. I held my breath. I knew this was the one.
I was right! The man put me in his car and took me home. Can you believe it? Home! He was nervous about introducing me to his other dogs, I could tell, so I showed him what a good girl I was. I wagged my tail, gave everyone a big sloppy kiss, and crawled straight into my new bed, where I fell asleep immediately from exhaustion. Did I snore loudly? Perhaps.
I’ve been at my new home six months now. I eat with the hounds and guard my man’s hens during the day. I keep his kitchen floor sparkling clean from any fallen food crumbs. We play a game called, “sit, shake hands, lie down” – silly, but it makes him happy, and whatever makes him happy, makes me happy.
Velma is one of the sweetest and most willing dogs I have ever had. She has changed my mind about the “bully” breeds.
I knew I could make someone happy. Thanks for giving me a chance.
* * *
“Bully” breeds are not inherently dangerous or unpredictable; they are mostly victims of cruel or irresponsible owners. The Aiken County Animal Shelter carefully screens all dogs for aggressive tendencies before they are released to the adoption floor.
BY THE NUMBERS
Jan 2015 Aiken County Animal Shelter Statistics
Total dogs and cats Received = 403
Total dogs and cats Returned to owner = 25
Total dogs and cats adopted/transferred = 235
Total dogs and cats Euthanized = 100
Percent euthanized = 25% lowest % to date!
PETS OF THE WEEK
KRISTA Female, lab retriever mix, 1 year, 46 lbs. — $70.00
WILSON Male, tabby, 1 year, 9 lbs. — $35.00